Do Cardinals Mate for Life?

Do Cardinals Mate for Life?

Do cardinals mate for life? Short answer, yes! Male and female cardinals are monogamous and mate for life. Some pairs stay together until one dies and are forced to look for another. They work together to expand their territory and join a winter flock. 

They beautifully communicate with each other through their songs. After they are together, the male and female cardinals will try to make their own nest, but only during the nesting season. The pair may leave for Winter, but they’ll be together again during the Spring.

However, some factors can cause them to separate from each other, specifically death. Thus, although cardinals are said to be loyal to their end. The female cardinals sometimes have to change partners to survive. 

About Male and Female Cardinals

One unique bird widely portrayed in cartoons is the cardinal bird. In cartoons, people often portray the cardinal bird as an angry bird.

However, this inaccurate portrayal cannot be farther from the truth.

The hallmark of this cardinal bird is that it has a crest. The color is bright and looks lit up; this is one of the attractions of this bird species. To find out more about cardinals, read the following explanations.

do cardinals mate for life, male and female cardinals

Where Are They Found?

The cardinal bird (Paroaria coronata) is a type of bird originating from the Americas. You can find this particular type of male and female cardinals in regions such as Uruguay, Argentina, Bolivia, and Paraguay. You can find Cardinals living in subtropical and tropical forests. Their primary food sources are fruit, seeds, and other small insects.

This bird is also unique and exciting in terms of its physical appearance, with a red-crested and black face like a masked person.

In addition, the chirping sound they generally sing has a very melodic quality and sounds varied. Birds that are thought to be just animated birds can be found in the real world; however, only in certain areas.

Besides learning and answering the question of ‘do cardinals mate for life,’ let us understand more about their behavior.

male and female cardinals

Male and Female Cardinals Behavior

The cardinal is also often found in Florida, with nests hidden from predators. Sometimes this bird also hides its nest in a thicket of shrubs to the edge of fences.

The nest comprises dry grass, straw, tree bark, and twigs from the vine. The eggs are usually four to six, dull white with olive-brown spots.

For several breeding seasons, young cardinal birds often come out of their nests. Usually, these birds still follow their parents for several days until they leave their families after being able to find their food.

Cardinals migrate in March. These birds will generally migrate with other birds such as sparrows, etc. In their migration, this bird will fly all day and rest in thickets and shady trees for several days.

Then the bird will jump from one bush to another. And when it’s late in the evening, these migratory birds will generally look for swamp areas to rest. When this cardinal bird migrates, the male bird will precede the female bird by about ten days.

Other Facts About Cardinals

The Northern Cardinal Bird is a medium-sized bird with a body length of about 21-23 cm. The male sex is slightly larger than the female.

In males, this bird is dominated by a bright red color. As for the female, the bird is grayish brown with a bit of red on the wings, tail, and crest.

Male northern cardinals usually bring leaves, stems, and twigs to females, who use them to make nests. Northern cardinals make nests by crushing twigs through their beaks until they are soft. It takes about 3 to 8 days to build a nest that is 2-3 inches high by 4 inches wide and about 3 inches in diameter.

Both male and female Northern Cardinals are one of the best songbirds of the 5,000 bird species in the world. The male cardinals generally sing more often as territorial behavior. Their songs signify that their territory is inhabited and well defended. This bird will repel other males who have entered its territory.

There are many kinds of songs that the cardinal sings. This is because it often learns a variety of tunes when in different areas. This bird can sing in various ways with its partner, and both have a clear and melodious song.

The northern cardinal bird has two similar species: the desert cardinal (Pyrrhuloxia) and the bright red cardinal (Vermilion Cardinal). Both species are widely distributed from the Great Lakes region to northern South America. Both birds belong to the genus Cardinalis, which has distinctive features such as a prominent crest and a thick beak.

Do Cardinals Mate for Life? 

Do cardinals mate for life? As we have explained earlier, yes. Like other birds, cardinals may also leave their partner during Winter. The males usually leave the nest to join the winter flock. While most of them return with their partner, some do not. Various reasons may cause this.

According to research, some female cardinals don’t have the same male partners for life. Some of them decided to change mates with others during the breeding season. However, the reasons for this aren’t abundantly clear.

The main reason for changing partners is because one of them dies. According to a report, only 60% of cardinals will live till the next breeding season, meaning that 40% didn’t survive. 

Although cardinals have 13 to 15 years to live, most don’t reach adulthood. So, the female cardinals don’t have a choice but to change partners from time to time.


I hope I have managed to answer your question in this article. If you love cardinals as much as I do, check out my article on the different types of cardinals.

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